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Blogger Night In Canada

There was a very nice piece yesterday on Hockey Night in Canada about the rise of hockey blogs, focusing in particular on the group centered around the Washington Capitals (where owner Ted Leonsis has fostered their growth), and ending with host Ron McLean giving some of our favorite sites some coveted face time on hockey's biggest stage.

It's a wonderfully comprehensive and balanced piece, and there's a few points that are worth responding to.

They spoke with Kevin Allen to get the professional sportswriter's view of the growing impact of hockey blogging, and he spouted some of the more obvious arguments about the whole sector being in its "infancy", and decrying the fact that bloggers don't have a particular editor or publisher to answer to in the event that they cross the bounds somehow.

First off, amateur online sportswriters have been going at it for over 10 years now, as Spector, PJ Swenson, myself, and others can attest. The field is hardly in its infancy, but rather, full-blown acne-ridden adolescence at least. I received full press access from the Red Wings back in 1997 and 1998 while writing for In the Crease, under terms which both parties agreed to; act like you belong there (no asking for autographs), and let the deadline-guys get their quotes first. It's not that hard, folks.

As to the accountability issue, the point has been well made on other blogs that while we don't enjoy the benefits of editors (and believe me some of us could really use one), the accountability comes from our audience. If writers get reckless and start spewing garbage, their readers and fellow bloggers won't continue to support them. A common sense step for any team to go through when considering whether to grant a blogger's access request is to review not just their traffic numbers, but the extent to which their peers value their work. Hopefully the work that Eric McErlain has launched will help the NHL's teams figure out how to do this in a fairly standardized fashion, but the lack of such standards shouldn't hold up the show today. If anything, a team-by-team approach can help to develop best practices on how to credential amateurs.

All in all, though, it was a very fine piece and well worth a few minutes of your time.

And yes, I know there was a heck of a Predators game last night; I'll get to that later!

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